NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Mayor Karl Dean along with representatives from local banks announced a new initiative called "Bank On Music City" on Tuesday.
Community organizations, banks and credit unions have signed on to help working class families get their finances in order. Those who do not have checking or savings accounts are particularly targeted and offered low or no monthly fees to open one.
According to research over 80,000 individuals in Nashville do not use traditional banking services, instead relying on check cashing services, payday loans and other potentially predatory financial services.
"They can be very intimidating at times," Nashville resident Gail Allen said. "They can harass you." She took out a payday loan to pay medical expenses but fell behind. Five or six months later she's still paying much more than the loan was originally worth.
Mayor Dean said that education is a key component of this initiative that aims to steer the most vulnerable away from alternatives.
"Nashville has more people who don't have bank accounts when compared to other cities. If we do all that we can to help people get bank accounts we can change that number and get us more in line with other major cities," said Dean.
"I feel financially I'm on the right track again," Irma Williams said after opening an account after eight years. "It's giving me independence."
The United Way is leading the efforts as part of Mayor Dean's Poverty Reduction
As part of the announcement Fifth Third Banks Empowerment bus was parked at the Community Center. Inside, they provide an array of financial services including free credit checks. The bus visits various cities in the country targeting under served populations.
Here's a list of the Nashville schedule: The Woodbine Community Organization/VITA site, located at 222 Oriel Avenue, will host the Fifth Third eBus on Wednesday, February 8 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.. The eBus will return to this location on Thursday, February 9 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
St. Luke's Community House/VITA site, 5601 New York Avenue, will offer services of the Fifth Third eBus to the local community on Thursday, February 9 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.